WASHINGTON / ISLAMABAD: The United States on Wednesday stressed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws and Constitution.
This emerged during US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s phone call with caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and Ambassador Donald Blome’s remarks at a programme in Islamabad.
The ambassador expressed the hope that Pakistan would conduct the elections in accordance with the decisions of its institutions in an open manner, allowing the people to decide who their leadership would be.
Both Assistant Deputy Secretary Nuland and Ambassador Blome also spoke on a range of other issues, including economy and gender equality. Ms Nuland assured Mr Jilani of Washington’s support to stabilise Pakistan’s economy and its continued engagement with IMF.
FM Jilani says Afghan Taliban have arrested some suspects involved in terror attacks on Pakistan soil
According to a statement issued by the US State Department, Ms Nuland congratulated FM Jilani on his appointment. “They discussed broadening and deepening the US-Pakistan partnership on issues of mutual concern, including Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity and continued engagement with the IMF,” spokesperson Matthew Miller stated.
“The leaders discussed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws and Constitution,” he added.
Besides, in a post on social media platform X (erstwhile Twitter), Ms Nuland said: “Appreciated our call today on our shared commitment to our bilateral relationship and Pakistan’s economic stability, security, and prosperity.”
Separately, while speaking to reporters at the Foreign Office. FM Jilani said the Afghan government had arrested some perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and informed the authorities in Islamabad.
The interim minister’s statement comes as Pakistan continues to face terror incidents — which have been on the rise since the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan ended a ceasefire agreement last year — and against the backdrop of growing concerns regarding terrorism by elements based in Afghanistan.
He reiterated Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir dispute. On the ODI World Cup to be held in India, he expressed the hope that New Delhi would provide complete security to the Pakistani team.
Blome on polls
Separately, at a press talk on the margins of the Asia Foundation’s session on ‘gender-based violation reduction’ in Islamabad, Ambassador Blome while referring to his recent meetings with the caretaker prime minister and chief election commissioner, remarked that it “was an opportunity for us to reiterate the holding of general elections in Pakistan”.
Responding to a question about women’s participation in elections, he said it is extremely important that women are fully represented among the electorate and encouraged to vote. Women should feel safe and able to go to the polling stations and have their voices heard. “That is of critical importance to the United States”.
Highlighting the importance of women’s participation in the economic sphere, the envoy said, “It is critical to Pakistan’s development as a nation to find a solution to keep girls in school and to ensure they are in the workforce contributing to the development of the country”.
Earlier, Ambassador Blome said that alarming rates of gender-based violence in Pakistan and around the world demanded collective action and attention. The presence of American embassy at the Asia Foundation session underscores the shared interest of the United States and Pakistan in promoting gender security as a matter of justice and of prosperity.
The US and Pakistan share a conviction that promoting gender security means the full integration and participation of women in decision-making, law enforcement, justice, and peacekeeping, the envoy added.
Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2023